Dancock's Dance


71 pages
ISBN 0-921368-61-5
DDC C812'.54




Reviewed by Ian C. Nelson

Ian C. Nelson is assistant director of libraries at the University of
Saskatchewan, and président de la Troupe du Jour, Regina Summer Stage.


The “dance” in Dancock’s Dance is a large metaphor that
encompasses both a dance of death in the classic sense and a dance of
life embodied in a human gesture of risk. Over the course of the play,
dances of madness, war, and inhumanity are enacted.

In the closed world of a mental asylum, a World War I Canadian Army
officer consorts with a delusional patient of German extraction and with
a voluntary female patient who believes that she is in danger of
self-combustion. In fact, she is held by the heavy yoke of conformity
imposed on women of that era by their fathers. Abetted by an abusive
male orderly, the superintendent of the institution tries to impose
order on this closed society. Dancing between these figures, and in the
shadow of Dancock, is the ghost of a soldier who makes a startling
revelation about the officer’s conduct during the war. Along with the
characters, the audience is forced to recognize that a moral world will
always contain paradoxes and exceptions.

This play will be of interest to readers already drawn to the variety
of Guy Vanderhaeghe’s growing opus.


Vanderhaeghe, Guy., “Dancock's Dance,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/5331.